I never thought I'd say this, but I participated in a flash mob last night (Sept. 15). We didn?t congregate on a street corner and start chanting or anything like that. Instead, we solved a molecular dynamics problem. ?Flash mob computing?, the brainchild of Patrick J. Miller, of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories, is a way to build ad hoc supercomputers from unused desktop and laptop computers. Arrayed in the M. Carey Thomas Library at Bryn Mawr College were nine "slave" laptops under the control of one "master" working in tandem on a simulation of calmodulin unfolding upon interaction with anthrax edema factor. While Miller addressed the crowd of 50 or so chemists and students who came to see the event, our computers labored diligently. We didn?t break any new scientific ground, but we did solve 15,800 simulation steps (about 33 picoseconds of real time) in under an hour. We...
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